Pommerscher Verein Freistadt
The Pomeranian Society of Freistadt
The Pomeranian Society of Freistadt

 Introduction (Einleitung) to Pomeranian Genealogy

The former Prussian/German province of Pomerania (from Slavic po, "along" and morze, "sea") was situated on the southern Baltic Coast, on both sides of the River Oder, stretching from Stralsund on the west to Lauenburg on the east. The Slavic tribes Pomorzanie and Polabs settled the area in the 5th century. German migration into the western and central regions of Pomerania began in the late 12th century. Western Pomerania (Vorpommern) was acquired by the Swedes through the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Part of this area was returned to Brandenburg in 1720.  Prussia combined this area and the other areas of western Pomerania in 1815 as one province and called it Pommern. Prussia annexed eastern Pomerania (Hinterpommern) in 1772. The far eastern district, called Pomerelia or Pomerellen, eventually became what was known as West Prussia after 1772.

After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles created the Polish Corridor in part of Hinterpommern. The Polish part formed the province of Pomerelia (German Pommerellen; Polish Pomorze)(6,335 sq. mi. / 16,408 sq. km.), with Bydgoszcz as its capital. The German province had 14,380 sq. mi. / 38,410 sq. km., with Stettin (Szczecin) as its capital.

After World War II, the Potsdam Conference in 1945 transferred to Polish jurisdiction the area east of the Oder River (former Hinterpommern), and a small part west of the Oder including the former Pomeranian capital city Stettin (Szczecin), the peninsula Wollin, and the eastern part of the peninsula Usedom with the city of Swinemünde. The former Hinterpommern today forms two of the 16 voivodeships (provinces) of Poland: Zachodnio-Omorskie (province of West Pomerania) with Szczecin (formerly Stettin) as its capital city and Pomorskie (Pomerania) with Gdansk (formerly Danzig) as its capital. The balance of the Pommern area west of the Oder was designated as part of Mecklenburg and thus a part of the Soviet zone of occupation. The area became part of the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), also known as East Germany. Today most of this area is part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

Basic Facts About Pomerania/Pommern

  • Size: 11,621 sq. miles (20% the size of Wisconsin); 14,3890 square miles after Grenzmark, Posen-Westpreussen was added to Pomerania in 1938. Today about 2,800 square miles of Vorpommern remain in Germany, with the balance in Poland.
  • Prussian: 1701-1947
  • Dominant religion: Protestant (1871:  Evangelical - 1,397,467; Catholic - 16,858; Other - 4,266; Jewish - 13,036; and Non-Christian - 6)
  • Population: 1855 - 1,289,134; 1871 - 1,431,796
  • Land ownership: 1860s: 0-3.1 acres (cottagers) - 80; 3.2-18.9 acres - 400; 19.0-189 acres - 2,863; 190-378 acres - 572; and over 378 acres - 6,979 (total = 10,484 landowners)
  • Principal crops: potatoes, rye, oats, wheat, barley, tobacco, flax, hops, beetroot
  • Livestock: horses, sheep, cattle, pigs, geese
  • Industry: fishing, linen weaving, shipbuilding, distilleries, sugar refineries, peat, woodworking
  • Minerals: chalk
  • Rivers: Oder, Peene, Ücker, Ihna, Persante
  • Ports: Stettin was the third largest German port, but the number of emigrant ships was small when compared to Hamburg and Bremen.
Source: Uncapher, Wendy K. and Linda M. Herrick. German Maps & Facts for Genealogy. Janesville, Wisconsin: Origins, 2002.

Pomerania stretched along the Ostsee (Baltic Sea) bordering on Mecklenburg, Brandenburg and West Prussia. The province was part of the North German Plain and was considered the flattest area of Germany.  East of the Oder River lay a range of low hills and forests. The soil was thin and sandy and not very good for farming. In spite of this, Pomerania ranked as one of the largest producers of crops.

The province had numerous lakes and marshes. The largest rivers were the Oder, Peene, Ücker, Ihna, Rega, Persante, Wipper, Stolpe, Lupow and the Leba, which all flowed to the north. In Southern Pomerania the small streams connected to the Netze River.  The western coastline was very irregular; the eastern coast was more regular and bordered with sand dunes, and was famous for its seaside resorts since the 1930s. Fishing was popular, especially for lampreys and herring. Fishing centers thrived in Stralsund and Sassnitz.  The marshes were sources for peat.

The province had three large islands: Rügen, Usedom and Wollin. Rügen was separated from the main land by a narrow channel called the Strela Sund. Usedom and Wollin were located between the Stettiner Haff (Stettin Lagoon) and the Pommersche Bucht (Pomeranian Bay) in the Baltic.

Through the years, alternate names were used for the western and eastern parts of Pomerania. East and west were divided by the Oder River.

  • Western: Westpommern; Vorpommern; Fore Pomerania; Near Pomerania; Hither Pomerania; and Swedish Pomerania.
  • Eastern: Ostpommern; Hinterpommern; Further Pomerania; Far Pomerania; Farther Pomerania; and Prussian Pomerania.

Source: Herrick, Linda M. and Wendy K. Uncapher. Pomerania: Atlantic Bridge to Germany. Janesville, Wisconsin: Origins, 2005.

Districts and counties (Kreise) in Pomerania
The names in bold are the three administrative districts (Regierungsbezirke) in Pomerania. Names in parentheses are current Polish names. Stargard, Stettin and Stralsund were Stadtkreise (city counties). Kreis Fürstentum was divided in 1872 to make Kreise Bublitz, Köslin and Kolberg-Körlin. See Governmental Districts for additional information.
Köslin Stettin Stralsund
Belgard (Bialogard) Anklam Franzburg
Bublitz (Bobolice) Cammin (Kamien) Greifswald
Bütow (Bytow) Demmin Grimmen
Dramburg (Drawsko) Greifenberg (Gryfice) Rügen
Fürstentum Greifenhagen (Gryfino) Stralsund
Kolberg-Körlin (Kolobrzeg) (Karlino) Naugard (Nowogard)  
Köslin (Koszalin) Pyritz (Pyrzyce)  
Lauenburg (Lebork) Randow  
Neustettin (Szczecinek) Regenwalde (Resko)  
Rummelsburg (Miastko) Saatzig (Szadzko)  
Schivelbein (Swidwin) Stargard (Stargard.Szczecinski)  
Schlawe (Slawno) Stettin (Szezecin)  
Stolp (Slupsk) Ückermünde  
  Usedom-Wollin (Wolin)
The "Pomeranian Research" pages on this web site were originally compiled and written by Duane Bogenschneider and appeared on his web site www.genealoger.com.  PVF thanks him for the gift of these pages to the PVF web site and appreciates the many, many hours he spent in preparing the pages.

Jan. 2024